Chicago is an American Midwestern city that is the largest in the state of Illinois, and the third largest in the United States in terms of population. It is also considered as the home of blues and jazz music, as well as a hub of stand-up comedy and skyscrapers.
The city’s picturesque skyline can be seen across the waters of Lake Michigan. Chicago also boasts of world-class museums, parks, modern architecture, and even beaches. Here are several activities you can do when visiting The Windy City.
Take a view from the top
Chicago is proud of their skyscrapers. You can start with an elevator ride to the 103rd floor observatory of the Sears Tower, where you can view the whole city as well as the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana. Try going in early because the security is there very tight.
Meanwhile, you could also visit John Hancock Center Observatory, located on the third tallest building in Chicago. It arguably has the most impressive panoramic views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding buildings. Locals even recommend that you can even have better views from the building’s 95th floor or-if you’re a woman-head to the ladies’ room on the same floor.
Shop along the Magnificent Mile
The northern half of Michigan Avenue contains exclusive shops, department stores, and boutiques. Most of these stores are located inside malls, which makes it an easy shopping experience during winter.
Get into the Blues
Chicago is the center of Blue music, and you can find a lot of cool clubs in the city such as Kingston Mines on the North Side and Checkerboard along the South Side. If you are into blues, it is best to come into the city by June, during the Chicago Blues Festival.
Have family fun by the pier
The Navy pier may appear inferior, but it does deliver quality entertainment for the whole family. All members can shop in the mall, play mini golf during winter, see a movie in an IMAX Theater, or explore the Chicago Children’s Museum.
The city is proud of its arts and science museums. The Art Institute of Chicago is a cultural gem containing the country’s best collection of impressionist the post-impressionist art. You can also attend some not-so-popular but equally-fascinating museums such as National Museum of Mexican Art or the Museum of Photography.
Meanwhile, the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum is the oldest of its kind in the United States. It even has a snazzy 3-d sky show, and where astronomy and physics fanatics, both young and old, get fascinated with the interactive science exhibits.
You can also stop by the Field Museum and say hello to Sue, the city’s gigantic T-Rex display. There are even museums and galleries that exhibit public art, which means you can get in for free.
Watch "universities" of fish
The Shedd Aquarium contains many fantastically colored fish, as well as dolphins and whales. Local recommend visiting the Wild Reef exhibit, where stingrays swim underneath the plexiglass floor.
Marvel at the city’s architecture
The Oak Park suburb has many fine examples of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School-style architecture through its early buildings.
Visit an ethnic neighborhood
Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, each bearing traces of different immigrant groups such as Little Italy, Andersonville (Scandinavian and Middle Eastern), Chinatown, Devon Avenue (Indian, Pakistani, and Russian Orthodox Jew), Pilsen (Mexican), and Bronzeville (African-American). Each neighborhood has interesting activities and sights that you should see for yourself.
Enjoy the beach
Yes, there are beaches in Chicago, particularly along Lake Michigan. If you are not into swimming, you can also try some other activities such as biking, boating, and running.
Attend free concerts
Grant and Millennium Parks, as well as the Chicago Cultural Center host regular classic and pop concerts during summer. These concerts also offer blues, jazz, country, gospel, Celtic, and World Music.
Watch a free movie
Every Tuesday night in summer, Grant Park shows classic films at sundown on a giant screen. You have to be there early because it is quite popular. Don’t forget to spread out a blanket and have a picnic while watching a free movie.
Learn free dance lessons
Swing, polka, step, waltz, and salsa are taught for free in Grant Park during the city’s Summer Dance Festival. After learning new steps to the beat of a live band, sashay around the dance floor for some free dancing.
Support the home teams
Chicago is proud of their professional sports teams from the popular Chicago Bulls (basketball) at the United Center and Chicago Bears (American football) at Soldier Field, to the baseball legends Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, to the lesser-known Chicago Fire (soccer) in Bridgeview, Chicago Rush (arena football) in Rosemont, and Chicago Sky (women’s basketball) in UIC Pavilion.
Not to mention that the city also has several minor league baseball teams as well as university teams. You can attend their games at their respective fields during season, but in most cases you need to buy tickets in advance.
Have a laugh
Chicago is famous for its roots in improvisational comedy, and is a big part of the city’s theater scene. Go in The Annoyance, I. O., or The Playground and give yourself a hearty laugh courtesy from aspiring comedians. Meanwhile, Steppenwolf is another landmark theater with a good mix of young and veteran ensemble.
However, if you really want to splurge, go to the city’s Broadway outlets located in the Loop and Near North districts, where Broadway shows are presented. Meanwhile, the locals recommend a trip to The Auditorium in the Loop. Its architecture alone is a sight to behold.